Yazidis to take ISIS to international court for genocide

Sunday 03/07/2016
Displaced people from minority Yazidi sect

ERBIL - A UN report claiming that Islamic State (ISIS) militants committed genocide against Yazidi communities in Syria and Iraq unleashed dozens of re­quests to sue the jihadists.

Yazda, the global Yazidi organi­sation, is leading the campaign to bring ISIS to trial before the Inter­national Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

The information by Princess Uruba Bayzid Ismael, one of a few remaining Yazidi royal family members, came days after UN in­vestigators presented a report on their findings on the Yazidis.

Ismael said ICC judges have heard cases of Yazidi women who said they had been used by ISIS as sex slaves. Asked if she expected the cases, if eventually turned into lawsuits, may bring an internation­al recognition that ISIS committed genocide against Yazidis, the prin­cess suggested that what really mattered was to have history re­cord the genocide against Yazidis.

“After 100 years of the genocide in Armenia, only Germany recog­nised it,” she said. “In our case, we may not get that far but it is certainly worthwhile to make the effort and to remind the world and future generations of the atroci­ties committed by this terror group against our people.”

UN investigators said ISIS com­mitted genocide against Yazidis in Syria and Iraq, seeking to destroy the ethno-religious group through killings, sexual slavery and other crimes.

“The genocide of the Yazidis is ongoing,” the investigators said, urging major powers to rescue the approximately 3,200 Kurdish Yazidi women and children held by ISIS and refer the case to the ICC.

The UN General Assembly re­gards genocide as a crime pros­ecuted under international law for whatever context or reason, be it religious, racial, ethnic or politi­cal. Masroor Aswad Mohialdeen, a member of the Iraqi High Com­mission for Human Rights, said ISIS “denied the Yazidis their right of existence because of their reli­gion”.

“Iraq’s parliament and govern­ment have confirmed the geno­cide that ISIS committed against the Yazidis and the other ethno-religious groups that were living in the areas controlled by ISIS,” Mohi­aldeen said.

“There’s an international will to have the war crimes against the Yazidis brought to the world’s tri­bunal,” he said, pointing out that there were allegations of atroci­ties committed against Turkmen, Christians, Shias and even Sunnis in areas ruled by ISIS. He insisted that the worst crimes were com­mitted against Yazidis.

International attention will “give the Iraqi government the support needed to sue ISIS agents and to cut their financial resourc­es”, Mohialdeen said.

“There is an interna­tional project to protect the ethno-religion minori­ties through establish­ing a region for them in the Mosul plain, north of Iraq,” he said.

According to the Directorate for the Yazidi Affairs in the regional govern­ment of Iraqi Kurd­istan there were 550,000 Yazidis in northern Iraq prior to ISIS tak­ing control of the area.

Now, there are 400,000 displaced Yazidis, 65,000 immigrants, 5,838 kidnapped, 841 missing, 1,280 killed, 280 dead and 890 wound­ed, according to the statistics. It said 18 Yazidi shrines were de­stroyed and 12 mass graves with hundreds of skeletons were dis­covered in Sinjar.

Ismael said she hoped world governments and international organisations would help free the kidnapped Yazidis, who are most­ly women and children.

“It is also necessary to bring to trial the criminals who helped the militants enter the Yazidi towns to commit their atrocities”, she said, pointing to ISIS help coming from unnamed Iraqi “extremist Muslims” and Kurdish peshmerga forces in Sinjar.

The town of Sinjar has come to define the war for northern Iraq since ISIS seized it in August 2014 and ruled it for 15 months. The militants killed, enslaved or kid­napped thousands of Yazidis, including women and children.

About 50,000 others fled but were trapped on Mount Sinjar above the city without food or water for days until they were rescued by Syrian Kurdish forces.

ISIS considers Yazidis, who have their own beliefs, customs and tra­ditions, infidels who should con­vert to Islam or be killed.